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Rebirth, reborn…..

The theme of reincarnation has been done to death (& has seen rebirth) in Bollywood ever since it started with the unforgettable Mahal (Ashok Kumar, Madhubala , Khemchand Prakash) started using the theme and Madhumati took it across 3 generations (Bimal Roy, Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Salil Chowdhury) created musical magic and rewrote Bollywood history. Every other wannabe filmmaker tried to encash on the idea. Some of the projects died unborn, others did see the light of the day with varying degree of success.

Ye raat phir na aayegi was made by Brij Sadanah who probably for me is most famous for making Victoria 203 (with Pran & Ashok Kumar in truly unforgettable roles) . It had a great musical score by O P Nayyar .

The theme about a woman’s two thousand year old skeleton mysteriously coming to life as Sharmila Tagore, after it has been excavated by Mumtaz and her assistant Shailesh Kumar from an archaeological site. Amid the passage of these surreal events, Mumtaz and her widower father come to know that Sharmila Tagore has resurfaced after two thousand years to claim Biswajeet her lover from the past life, who is presently engaged to Mumtaz as her fiancé. Such a plot means Sharmila Tagore can be made to roam around in unreal costumes ( which in Bollywood go for any chronological period) .

It is also interesting to see excellent use of Indian locales for the movie, as well as wonderful monochrome photography. I personally feel photography in black and white was more demanding and provided a better opportunity to show one’s skills with lensmanship. https://youtu.be/lUWbc5MaTI0

The movie had this amazing duet sung by Asha Bhosle (who unsurprisingly sang all the songs of the movie bar a solo by Mahendra Kapoor) & Minoo Purushottam. Ashatai also has two duets with Rafisaab. Huzurewala, jo ho ijaajat has Helen, Madhumati and Suresh (all three in guest appearances) perform a faux Spanish dance that’s neither a Flamenco nor a Bolero. An Indianised version of dance in costumes that look like Basque/Mexican dresses and Suresh in an impossibly gelled down hairpiece carrying a Weapon of Mass Destruction that he seems to strum intermittently (to make us believe it is meant to be A guitar). Joy Mukherjee and even Biswajeet later perfected the art of carrying a guitar as a kind of phallic symbol. Biswajeet would gyrate with the guitar, while Joy would sling it on his shoulder looking clueless about what he was supposed to do with it. The guys never got to learn the idea that this was meant to be a musical instrument. That’s quintessentially Bollywood, and also a sign of the indignities that Indian audiences had to put up with while watching movies of the era. https://youtu.be/-6ym4uOOtEo

Enjoy the Sunday folks, have a wonderful time as I come face to face with the necessity and unpleasant reality of having to go back to what constitutes normal urban life.. Stay safe, healthy and happy.

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बस यूँही…….

The moon played peek-a-boo between the clouds last night and was enchanting

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Amor vincit omnia

While researching Annasaheb I stumbled upon this song and loved it very much. I went and saw the movie late one night.

Baarish was the movie with a very young and pretty Nutan and the debonair Dev Anand star as the lead pair. The musical score was by C Ramachandra. This is an amazing expression of love for one other. The duet is by Latadidi (her voice in this  phase was amazingly sharp) https://youtu.be/QimGVJkNdVU

Baarish was made as a Crime film actually as a desi version of  the Marlon Brando film that made a sartorial mark by way of popularizing the collarless T shirt: On the Waterfront it marked the directorial debut of Shanker Mukherjee. The core of the story has been done to death multiple times over, a guy who is pursuing a career of crime and falls in love with a young beautiful woman who reciprocates the love conditionally with the proviso that he will give up the life of crime. Dev Anand has himself used the theme several times.

Dev Anand was not up to the task (going by his physique) of portraying a rough and tough rogue, so the Hindi version made this movie into a romantic one. That’s right up Dev Anand’s street. His strong point, really. Pretty much the eternal romantic, he revels in the role. One sees him as picking up his ragdoll mannerisms which were to become his trademark of sorts later on in life.

This is a clip that has both versions of the song. https://youtu.be/FiTFNfx6ps0

Stay safe folks, stay healthy and happy. Stay away from the Chinese evil.

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बस यूँही…….

The love of nature and a habit of waking up at the same time every day makes me witness the recurring daily miracles of nature, everchanging, yet always there for me to witness in silent, unblinking awe….

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The memories gather…

I was writing the couplet of the day when this song popped into my head. The song would appear to be a continuum of the couplet. https://youtu.be/oOdrJl3D2fw

The song is one straight from the heart, nay soul and rendered with so much feeling I feel my eyes moisten every single time I hear it. The movie is a Dharmendra and Sharmila starrer, Mere Humdum Mere Dost. Typical Rafisaab song, heavy with emotion and each word delivered to good effect.

The movie was made by Amar Kumar and produced by Kewal Kumar, and was a big blockbuster of the year. Laxmikant Pyarelal composed the music and Majrooh wrote these wonderful lyrics. A movie with a cockeyed storyline that would make sense only to Hindi Film makers or a cokehead. Just read this line that tells the gist of the plot: Dharmendra is a middle class straight guy working for a CA’s firm in Delhi and meets a beautiful young lady (Sharmila Tagore) who is posing as a model for a painting session and thinks her to be poor and needy and so tips her, falls in love and later discovers her to be a multimillionaire, her father is in jail for having killed his father, and her mother is earning a livelihood as a prostitute. The gist will make your head spin and you won’t feel this could have been penned by any sane person who is Compos Mentis. My thoughts, too, except the guy happens to be a storywriter for Hindi Films so such things are natural or allowed, I suppose. Despite the utter tripe used as the central thread for the movie, it does have redeeming features, the musical score is really good with the musical factory of LP producing a number of really good songs that endure. Chhalka ye Jaam, Na Jaa kahin ab na jaa and Chalo Sajna Jahaan Tak Ghata Chale, are just three of the lovely pieces the duo created for the movie.

But to me the standout number was this brilliant Rafisaab number, soaked in emotion and soul, and sung as only he could. He had, in this genre and mood, easily the best voice in the industry. Unfortunately used for too many of the loud, meaningless songs that debased his value as a singer of soft soulful numbers. Poor guy was too much of a gentleman to say “NO” to the poor quality of songs. I wonder how so many movies made in the days when Prohibition was an avowed national policy when the Iron Lady was said to be a hardcore tippler (apparently a steward’s job on her flights abroad was to keep her Crystal glass always full to the brim). Enjoy this beautiful Rafisaab melody. It will put you into a different mood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEDEqiJfUPc

Stay safe, folks, stay far away from the Chinese Evil. Do take the jab, if you haven’t done it already.

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बस यूँही…….

Sunsets are times to pause, think and introspect. The celestial painter creates indescribably beautiful ever changing paintings in the skies every single day at dawn and dusk. It is fascinating to watch Him go about his work.

मजमुआ— संग्रह, एकत्र किया हुआ, बहुत सी चीजों का समूह, ढेर ,अब्र— बादल, वक्फा– दो कामों के बीच का ठहराव का समय, कालांतर,

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Not meant to be funny

Bollywood can sometimes create humour unwittingly in very serious situations. First and foremost I don’t really know why they have always tried, most stupidly to glamourise murderers and criminals. Every mass murderer will get his character scrubbed, sanitized and presented by Bollywood as a love lorn soft character.

In the history of Mankind, few have had such a blood soaked career as Genghis Khan and Taimur. Both killed hundreds of millions in their mad quest to conquer, loot and plunder. Yet Bollywood chose to present them in a fictionalised manner totally divorced of their real evil selves. Look at this song from a late 50s movie “Changez Khan” made with the real life husband and wife pair of Premnath and Bina Rai as the romantic leads. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl_8HM_M0PQ

Why did Bollywood choose to make outrageous movies like Changez Khan glorifying a mass murderer , is something that defeats me. In the 50s, just after achieving independence, this blatant attempt at softening the image of someone who by all historical (not written by distorians) accounts was an exceedingly cruel, heartless, bloodthirsty tyrant. Since his bloody deeds were far too numerous to be whitewashed, the filmmakers chose the route of introducing the mechanism of a Tatar leader who uses a ruse like a Trojan Horse to enter Changez Khan’s camp and then at night the band comes out and rescues their comrades in captivity. Premnath is the intrepid leader with the unmistakable goofy smile stuck on his face (stoic as the best of charitable explanations, expressionless if one wants to be factual) who is then captured by Changez Khan’s army men and presented to the leader. Changez Khan (Shaikh Mukhtar) now makes the fatal mistake of allowing himself to be impressed by the man’s foolhardy/ suicidal show of valour and elevates him to the post of an officer in his Mongol army. Sowing the seeds of future fight over the love of Tatar Princess Azra (Bina Rai), whose refusal to toe the line is apparently what set off Changez Khan’s murderous spree in the first place. The rest of the script is pure fiction. Utterly unbelievable and trying to romanticise the blood thirsty Mongols and similar other barbarians whose only motive was to loot and indulge in all kinds of atrocities under the garb of spreading religion.

Premnath and Bina Rai make a strange couple. I sometimes wonder what is it that the lady who made an unforgettable movie like Anarkali saw in the adipose heap who turned into a kind of comic villain that would appear to be modelled on Commissioner Dreyfuss from the Pink Panther series of outrageous laugh riots (made immortal initially by Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau and his equally inept Chief Inspector (later Commissioner) Dreyfuss Herbert Lom. Steve Martin isn’t a patch on Peter Sellers, his considerable talents notwithstanding.

The idea that the couple make an ideal romantic pairing is in itself outrageous and an insult to the audience’s sensibilities. But that is precisely what was done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrBa9srwnPI

The movie was produced by the Behls. Gulshan Behl was the producer and Hansraj Behl the music director. Another one of the many talented composers who never got the attention they deserved. Qamar Jalalabadi wrote the lyrics that are totally ectopic to the lead character.

Another song where I made the mistake of watching the movie due to the song, and something I would like you to warn to desist from. Much better to listen to Rafisaab sing beautifully and let your imagination take over. Reality is shocking, once again…

Stay safe, folks and stay happy and healthy. For me the long weekend has effectively begun. May good always triumph over evil …

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बस यूँही……..

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First rap….

Today is the 110th birthday of the great man. And sadly, by a quirk of destiny, the 34th death anniversary of his youngest sibling. He was being trained to be a lawyer, and thankfully didn’t pursue that career, instead he used a sabbatical he took, seeking refuge with his sister Satidevi and brother in law Sashadhar Mukherjee to effect a change in career course. From taking up a job as a technician with Himanshu Rai’s Malad based Bombay Talkies, he was accidentally (and almost without a choice) made a leading actor, without any formal training nor experience, due to Himanshu Rai getting rid of the previous incumbent who had tried to spirit his wife, the leading actress of the day, Devika Rani, in Jeevan Naiya, a film that was under production. Najm ul Hasan got a boot from Himanshu Rai, who anointed Kumudlal Ganguly on a whim to be the male lead. He sent out a strong signal to Devika Rani , as well as the director Franz Osten (who didn’t think Kumudlal had the looks or talent to become a film hero). Himanshu Rai christened Kumudlal Ganguly for films and launched him as Ashok Kumar. Arguably he was Himanshu Rai’s greatest legacy apart from spawning great production houses. Filmistan was formed by Sashadhar babu hiving off teams from Bombay Talkies, and later Filmalaya was similarly created by him by separation from Filmistan.

Ashok Kumar & Devika Rani in their second film together, a big hit : Achut Kanya had a reformist theme way ahead of the time.

Ashok Kumar tasted success as an actor and how!! He acted in conventional lead roles (romantic singing actor as was the norm then). The Gyan Mukherjee directed movie Kismet made during WWII times, featuring Ashok Kumar (amazingly bold decision at the time) as the first anti-hero in the history of Bollywood, smashed all existing box office records, becoming the first Hindi movie to gross 1 crore at the box office. The success of Kismet made Ashok Kumar the first superstar of Indian cinema. Such was his popularity at the time that, in the words of Saadat Hasan Manto, “Ashok Kumar’s popularity grew with each passing day. He seldom ventured out, but wherever he was spotted, he was mobbed. Traffic would come to a stop and often the police would have to use lathis to disperse his fans.”

Ashok Kumar in Kismet the first movie to break the One Crore barrier in 1943.

Ashok Kumar remained amazingly versatile and his readiness to take on any kind of role stood him in good stead, there was never any staleness in his acting and he undoubtedly contributed to a prolongation and enriching of his legendary professional career. Who could have thought of doing a comic caper of sorts in Victoria 203 with an equally capable (& almost similarly old) Pran? The roles reduced the lead pair of Navin Nischol and Saira Banu (the latter even had to go through a titillating scene in the movie) into insignificance. Or the unforgettable role in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat with Rekha? (Does anyone even remember that Rakesh Roshan was the notional male lead in the movie??)

I can never forget his roles in movies like Bandini and my favourite tearjerker Aashirwad. His versatility is shown from this amazing song from Aashirwad, which will always appeal to every child, irrespective of age. https://youtu.be/Gw092yHKX7I

Isn’t it sad that the apple of his eye, his youngest sibling, Abhas Kumar Ganguly that the world knows by his screen name, Kishore Kumar should pass away on this very day in 1987, at a way-too-young age of 58 just as guests were gathering for Ashok Kumar’s birthday party? The tragedy broke Dadamuni’s spirit and he never celebrated his birthday for the next 14 years that he was with us. Amazingly despite his preeminent position and enviable success and riches, he brought up his children with simplicity, giving them middle class values.

13th October concentrates on an outpouring of grief for the flamboyant and multifaceted quirky genius that Kishore Kumar undoubtedly was. People tend to forget the gentle giant and highly respected Dadamuni, the very reason I opted to concentrate on him. There will never be another one like him. My eternal respect for this amazing, complete actor in the truest sense.

Stay safe, folks. Stay healthy and happy. Take the jab, if you’ve not already done it.

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बस यूँही…..

Sunsets are fascinating. The hues one gets to see when the orb goes to rest at the end of its untiring journey are amazing. As if the world is being bathed in liquid gold..